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DIY/Lo-Fi





On “SITUATIONS,” Paris Texas Meld Hip Hop & Synthpop Sensibilities

Photo Credit - Jimmy Bui

Compton, South Los Angeles multi-disciplinary creative outfit Paris Texas (the team of Louie Pastel and Felix) have released their debut project, BOY ANONYMOUS. Across the project’s 8 self-produced tracks, the duo span an impressive range of genres and textures, and a particular standout is the single “SITUATIONS.”

The, tense but nimble track is a spare, minimal blend of icy late 70s/early 80s UK synthpop with “slice of life” hip-hop lyricism. The sonic landscape is populated with warm, rounded synth bass, distantly-reverbed vocals, and a jaded chorus repeating the phrase “hey now / these situations / hey now / just keep your patience,” while lines like “leave the house for all the dreams I had to chase,” and “couldn’t stay behind ‘cause shit would stay the same” hint at a desperate desire to escape a dire domestic situation to stake a claim at some sort of autonomy, whether creative or otherwise. And all the while a nervous, insistent synth organ phrase repeats throughout, restlessly peaking over the fence at the rest of proceedings.

The sense of anxiety mixed with fatigue is palpable, but the off-hand style and catchiness of the track keeps things from growing stale. Gabe Hernandez

 





Kiss Hello Delivers Mid-Fi Summer Vibes On Their Latest Self-Titled Album

Kiss Hello wants to share a moment. The project is the pseudonym of DTLA-based experimental/alt pop auteur Linus Landucci, whose most recent self-titled album is an effervescent blend of nimble yet blissed-out electronic instrumentals and endearingly melodic, guitar-forward indie pop songs.

Standout tracks include "Juicy Time,” with its acrobatic, Jaco Pastorius-style bass, spun-glass synth pads, softly bit-crushed drum sounds, and ambient vocal samples, which evoke a nostalgia for a past that may never have actually arrived.

Meanwhile, “Don’t Fret” and “Goodbye (Smiling My Way Home) are summery blasts of beachy jangle pop with a distinctly California vibe, perfect for blasting over the speakers on a long drive up PCH.

Overall, Kiss Hello’s engaging mid-fi aesthetic and wistful lyrics demonstrate an advance from their earlier, more lo-fi and ambient work, and bring them into 2021 poised to be the new soundtrack to your socially-distanced summer outings. Gabe Hernandez


 





Air Devi writes songs about moving and mosquitos

Air Devi is both a band and a person which is like a PJ Harvey kind of deal. And also like PJ Harvey, she's got some serious musical and songwriting chops. Air Devi, the person, is alternatiely know as Devi Majeske and she's a violinist, sitarist, guitarist, bass guitarist, keyboardist, and a fairly recent U. Penn grad who writes cool songs that come across pretty laid back at first but then get under your skin and into your heart and head. Like on the recent single “Mosquitos in the Backyard,” a song that floats by like a big marshmallow cloud and with images of “wash lines swaying” and “lush perfume hanging” to match. Except when you dig a little deeper it's not all strawberries and cream because the song appears to either be about contracting malaria and/or it's a pretty brutal take down of a pest and narcissist with lines like “you’ll feed on anything that breathes / you never loved anything." Another clever touch is how the choruses sound a little bit like a buzzing mosquito with the chopped-up guitar chords and circling bass line on the high strings so there's much to comtemplate here.

Air Devi draws from diverse musical roots ranging from first-wave punk to Bollywood soundtracks to bedroom singer-songwriter pop to folkie psychedelia but there’s one recurring motif to my ears in how she/they often combine a blissed out vibe in the music and vocals with lyrics that are a series of sharply observed slices-of-life and streams-of-consciousness--pulling from disperate stands of thought and stands of identity and even from different languages with code-switching into French and Gujarati on a handful of songs. 

The latter Indo-language is heard on “Move Without Place," a song that rotates gracefully between styles—the Gujarati comes at the end of a sequence that moves first from ambient indie pop to a syncopated baggy beat with a Bollywood-like vocal melody and then Air Devi wondering aloud “Am I colonizable? Capitalizable?” when everything suddenly stops for a split-second and a bell chimes and then it goes into what sounds like traditional Hindustani music complete with dholak drumming, which is simlilar to a tabla but double-headed, and electric guitar and entrancing ornamented singing but then it all unwinds down to a single repeated guitar note and then back to the syncopated beat with the amibient indie pop backing and back around again. The restless musical arrangement perfectly captures the theme of the song to "move without place [and] make my own space" even if one's skin and the whole world itself is "splintered" and "sensitive."

It's all equally visceral and heady stuff--a dialectic that can be applied to much of Air Devi's music in my humble opinion. But you can make up your own mind by listening to the two aforementioned singles and then 2020’s Swanning About EP above ("No Clearances" is a particuarly lovely statement of purpose). And if you need more you can check out earlier singles like "Standoffish" and "Alchemist" and the stripped-down DIY of 2018's Chicken Nuggies & Rosé EP with some of its contents later rearranged in full-band form on Swanning such as "My Landlord Is An Asshole!" and who can really argue with a sentiment like that. And then, if that's not enough, you can dig into Air Devi's Soundcloud page and find even earlier works like the anti-Putin diss track "Kremlin Bop" that doubles as a Ramones-like sing-a-long with the title perhaps even being an homage to said band. 


But hey let’s not fixate on the past because cheap nostalgia is so 2020. And plus it'll be even more interesting to see and hear what Air Devi does next. (Jason Lee)

 





Queen Mob bring on the "Pop Sickle"

Queen Mob are a two-piece from Psychedelphia, who as individuals go by the names Beth and Colin, and if they placed a band personals ad it'd probably read something like “freak-folk-shoegaze-vaporwave band seeks absolutely no one because we don’t collaborate and we don’t cooperate.” 

Over the past year Queen Mob have released one album and one EP (Easy, Liger and Against A Pale Background) and three singles (“Comeback,” “Sidecar,” and “Pop Sickle”) the last of which I’m declaring to be the best runaway-carousel/broken-calliope music I’ve heard since MGMT’s “Lady Dada’s Nightmare”. 

In their recorded work to date the band have already demonstrated impressive range by alternately sounding like an inebriated Beck, an inebriated Swervedriver, and an inebriated Jandek (so, just, Jandek). Or maybe instead of inebriated they're just experimental. It's not really our business how they get to that place. 

Beth herself describes the single above as “haunted dystopian electronic music” and that strikes me as pretty accurate for their lastest music. So hop on to the merry-go-round and hold to your horse pole becuase Queen Mob will take you on a ride. (Jason Lee)





Johnny Dynamite offers insight on them “Triflin’ Kids”

 Don’t let the name fool you. Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers sounds like it should be the name of a ‘50s tribute act that’d currently be touring the oldies circuit with Sha Na Na if not for deadly pathogens. But while their actual sound may diverge sharply from the Boomer generation, Mr. Dynamite does share a certain ethos with the early rock ‘n’ rollers in terms of emotive authenticity and sonic immediacy. He just happens to go heavier on the drum machines and the synthesizers than an old school piano pounder like Jerry Lee Lewis.

When he’s not busy hanging out with the Bloodsuckers, Johnny can be found pounding the non-digital skins for dynamite local bands like Whiner and Ashjesus or manning the boards on recordings by other artists. If you wanna know more check out this interview with Dynamite from shortly before everything went to sh*t conducted by Tom Gallo of Radio Free Brooklyn and Look At My Records! fame that focuses on the 2020 debut album Heartbroken.

So it’s just my own take of course but when I listen to Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers I hear traces of OMD’s groundbreaking electro artpop, the indie-defining delicate yet driving sound of Sarah Records, the wobbly synths and modern psychedelia of MGMT, and finally, the chilled out and washed out ambience of, umm, Washed Out—with said chillness represented lyrically in the refrain of “Touch Like This” (one of many highlights on Heartbroken) which asks repeatedly “Why are you lying on the floor?”

But yeah, the whole pop music lineage given above is just a way of saying that J. Dynamite has his own thing going on if it takes this many reference points to describe his sound, and that he simply makes good solid pop music whatever the chosen touchstones.

Like on “Triflin’ Kids” the new single that perfectly synthesizes (pun intended) what Johnny’s got going on—opening with a woozy call-and-response synth hook that slides straight into a breathy seduction-minded verse, and when that doesn’t seem to work, a more direct appeal in the chorus that strips away the gauzy disco rhythms and the narrator’s loverman facade. 

And therein lies the twist in which the song’s unabashedly needy narrator takes the “bedroom” in “bedroom pop” pretty literally or tries to anyway—which acts as a musical tribute of sorts (full circle) since triflin’ kids are at the heart and the soul of so much of the most impactful pop music from the past to the present and god bless ‘em for that.

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